November 02, 2011 Practice Points

Low-Confidence Behaviors Stunt Women's Careers

By Suzanne L. Jones

According to a 2011 study by Europe's Institute of Leadership and Management, women are less confident than men in their careers. The study found that men were more confident across all age groups, with 70 percent of males having high or very high levels of self-confidence, compared to 50 percent of the women surveyed.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Jill Flynn, Kathryn Heath, and Mary Davis Holt discuss four "low-confidence behaviors" cited by both male and female managers as frequently exhibited by women in the workplace.

1. Being overly modest. Men are more willing to take public credit for their successes, while women believe their accomplishments should speak for themselves and do not seek the recognition they deserve.

2. Failing to ask for promotions. Women fail to get promoted because they fail to apply for or request a promotion. The problem with this behavior is that "[n]ot asking means you've lost the chance to influence the outcome."

3. Blending in. Some women prefer to blend in and go to great lengths to avoid attention. Blending in, however, "means you are missing opportunities—every single day—to stand out and sell your ideas."

4. Remaining silent. Women frequently fail to speak up in the workplace, resulting in missed chances "to get in the game."

According to the authors, women should make small adjustments in how they think and act to improve their confidence and progress in their careers.

Keywords: confidence, career, growth, self-confidence

Suzanne L. Jones works at Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP, Mineapolis, Minnesota.

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